Google Maps is global leader in local and international mapping having created, to an extent, ‘a digital mirror to the world’. RAC route-mapper is but a distant memory and today’s master of the route, Google Maps, with its real-time data, is deemed an essential tool for all travelers on two legs and four wheels; it’s a wonder we survived without it until 2005. Up until now it has required an internet connection to work. Luckily, it has recently been announced that Google Maps is set to go offline from the end of this year with the sole view of ‘mak[ing] traveling and exploring new places easier for people.' Amen to that.
There’s no doubt that the internet has shone a spotlight on destinations. Five years prior to Google Maps, TripAdvisor arrived on the scene to mark the start of mass online public judgement of place, and is now widely regarded as the first port of call for most holiday-makers choosing where to wine and dine or lay their weary heads.
Since then Facebook has played a role in sign-posting ‘must see’ places locally and internationally. Moving on from simply allowing users to ‘check-in’ and create travel maps, Facebook's app for iPhone has recently added another string to its bow with Facebook 'Place Tips’, which shows you more information about places you visit, including your friends’ photos, experiences and moments from said place.
Apps designed to sign-post us in the right direction of those hidden gems we’re all too keen to feast our eyes on are increasingly emerging. Find my pick of 4 below and see what they have to offer...
Download it: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/glp-great-little-place/id943861610?mt=8
GLP - ‘I know a Great Little Place’
Benefits: The good news is that you can always go back to your ‘Not for now’ pile, or alternatively tap on a card for more information or to store it in your black book for later.
Dot - where it’s at!
Download it: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/id961988624
Benefits: Greater freedom to search for exactly what you want with the hashtag function.
Locappy - ‘Discover your neighbourhood’
Download it: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/locappy-discover-your-neighbourhood/id826420363?mt=8
Benefits: Those in dire need in the early hours can click onto ‘Discover’ and straight onto ‘Open Places’ to pre-empt the hangover from hell, whilst anyone strapped for cash can see what offers are floating about. Businesses can reduce their spend elsewhere on social media by advertising their offers on Locappy instead.
Insiders - ‘the ultimate tool to curate your lifestyle’
Download it: https://appsto.re/gb/qUS-2.i
The menu features the following:
Discover – to explore a library of lifestyle recommendations from trusted Insiders - whether this be people, publications or brands
Curate – to collate lifestyle and insider tips, and create your own individual guides
Add Discovery - add your own finds
Near Me – like most location apps you can see what’s near your current location, and zoom the map on any city in the world
Profile – giving the app a personal touch your profile shows who you are following, whose tastes you trust and thus who you have added to your inner circle, which guides you have created, and which discoveries you have made.
Benefits: Enjoy privileges - rewards and loyalty programme
Find out more: Membership currently by invite only. You must be registered with myinsiders to use INSIDERS - sign up for more information https://www.myinsiders.com/ Insiders is completely for free if you are only following brands, friends and celebrities/influencers. However, if you want to follow ‘Premium’ channels (i.e. Conde Nast, Hearst, Time Inc, Bloomberg & Net-A-Porter publications), the monthly fee is $9.99 per month.
All of the above aim to connect the offline and online worlds, serving as great ways to elevate places and get people out and about. Of course the cynic in me worries that when anything becomes too mainstream or popular, the notion of a ‘hidden gem’ becomes lost altogether, however any tool which helps build local economies can only be a good thing. Word of mouth is now inevitably word on screen, however there’s still something to be said for face to face interaction. Take my trip to Prague with my parents last December – I instantly took to Trip Advisor to suss out the best restaurants. My parents instead asked the receptionist, who pointed us in the direction of two fantastic places we might not have otherwise visited.
There’s something to be said for allowing locals to take more control over the tourist industry. Air BnB and HouseTrip are fine examples of how this can work from an accommodation point of view, and a Vietnamese start up is making leaps and bounds with bespoke tours. Travel guru Ha Lem co-founded the website triip.me in 2013, which has become one of the most talked about businesses in Asia. He Lem was inspired by the idea of ‘helping people to create memories’ [huck magazine]. At its core, the triip service believes that ‘the people you meet are the most important thing’, with physically meeting in person being of course the one thing that cannot be experienced digitally. The site allows locals to sign up to provide bespoke tours to travelers, who can book said tours online easily. The goal is to provide tourists with real experiences beyond the tourist traps, giving them a genuine taste of local flavour. Triip.me is only currently operating in South East Asia but has plans to go global in 2016. Whilst it has led to a densely informative and globally-focussed app, WikiTriip, it currently does not allow users to book tours. As with all things digital, watch this space!
Author: Sarah Moor